Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oh those onions!!

I have seen onions with wings and onions with a turban,a spectacle,it was a real pinched onion simulating our esteemed prime minister, thanks to our cartoonists.
There is so much of a hoo ha about these haloed bulbs,I wondered why India is so obsessed with onions and potatoes.So much so that there is a phrase 'as common as onions and potatoes'used commonly in hindi and yet these humble vegetables are the ones which are quick to bag the head-lines as soon as it marginally moves from the expected norm in every sense.
(Onion belongs to the genius allium capa.
The bulb of the onion which grows underground is supposed to store energy.
Ancient Egyptians worshipped onion.The Ancient Egyptians worshipped it,believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions were even used in Egyptian burials, as evidenced by onion traces being found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.

In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onion because it was believed that it would lighten the balance of blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onion to firm up their muscles. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts. Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements and also to relieve headaches, coughs, snake bite and hair loss. The cultivated onion was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola. However, they found that strains of wild onions already grew throughout North America. Native American Indians used wild onions in a variety of ways, eating them raw or cooked, as a seasoning or as a vegetable. Such onions were also used in syrups, as poultices, as an ingredient in dyes and even as toys. According to diaries of colonists, bulb onions were planted as soon as the Pilgrim fathers could clear the land in 1648. Onions were also prescribed by doctors in the early 16th century to help with infertility in women, and even dogs, cats and cattle and many other household pets ).
My experience with onions are limited.
My fascination of onions were actually ignited in some of my umpteen visits with the TB boys to the Kutcherry in Daltonganj which serves one of the best mutton curries I have eaten in my life.Apart from the slight awkwardness of the eyeballs of the pan-chewing lawyers and the under-trials upon you while you eat your coveted afternoon lunch,it is an experience in itself.
The cook in the Kutcherry gives the hospital people a better service but what really caught my eye were the cut onions in the huge utensils which simmered in oil for over an hour with occassional ladelling in between,which I believe is the secret.My onions never fry beyond a few second.
When I started my kitchen in HCH,toughest part of the day was figuring out what to eat.The days I got invited over,it was not so much the anticipation of a good meal but the thought of not having decide what to eat which made the invite a pleasure.
My sister in Delhi gave me a simple has never failed to get me compliments.
Soak some grams overnight.
Fry the onions in a minimum oil,put in the soaked grams and green chillies,salt to taste,turmeric and let it simmer over a low heat.
That is actually it!
That is cooking mom's way -accentuating the natural flavour and not killing it. I saw my sister brown thinly diced onions over the biryani she was cooking,it's facinating what you can do with the common onion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Holy Communion.

February is almost done.I am still clinging on to the heater in the out-patient.
Missed the Lord's supper last sunday in the church.Sitting on the last bench in the church is not always a good idea.
I couldn't sleep well past two at night.I went to the fridge,took out a piece of bread and some pomogranite juice,prayed ,broke the bread,drank the juice and then went into a sweet slumber and woke up fresh the next day-at peace, by God's Grace.
(Courtesy;Grace Communion International)
The bread and wine are memorials of Jesus' death on the cross (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:26)

The Lord's Supper also pictures our present relationship with Jesus Christ. The crucifixion has a continuing significance to all who have taken up a cross to follow Jesus. We continue to participate in his death (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 2:20; Col. 2:20) because we participate in his life (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:6; Col. 2:13; 3:1).

Third, the Lord's Supper also reminds us of the future, of Jesus' return. Jesus said he would not drink the fruit of the vine again until he came in the fullness of the kingdom (Matt. 26:29; Luke 22:18; Mark 14:25). Whenever we participate, we are reminded of Jesus' promise. Paul wrote that "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). The Lord's Supper helps us look forward.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

DNB -do we need what we are getting?

I have avoided writing about all this DNB mess that has been going around forever because I am not really sure about the way things stand or the way it should stand.
For us in the mission hospitals where we conduct the programmes it is a sincere endeavour to try and give the youngster who come to us a view of the alternative lifestyle which often alludes them in the course of their training.
I am a DNB product.I had the privellage to work and get trained with some of the best faculties in the south of India.My time in the institution forever changed my out-look and the choices I made later in life but I have to say that I already had an inclination towards the choices I made.My teacher's facilitated it.
The institutions offering these programmes have sensitivities of their own.When candidates are chosen randomly as per their performance in the CET,the very idea of having DNB programmes in subjects like family medicine and rural surgery may be beaten.Our's is a country which is still looking towards training para-medics in basic medicine to cater to the needs of the remote regions of the country.If good performance in the CET exams would gaurantee dedicated service in the difficult areas ,one would understand, if not ,institutions with the quality training could back out of the programme alltogether and we would be back to square one doing what we have always failed to do.DNB needs to undertand it's paradigm better or it might as well be clubbed with the regular post-graduate programme in the country.Every candidate chosen carefully,facilitated well, who makes a decision to go to the back of beyond means lives saved and quality medicine in the place where they serve.
Doesn't India need that??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mother talks!

My sister,sister-in-law and my neice were with me for a day.
They literally snow-walked into Woodstock at ten for an interview scheduled at eight ,drove down to Herbertpur,spent the night with me and left the next day for Delhi.
We have this tendency to jam up whenever we meet and this time the topic between them were their first-borns.My sister has a lovely little girl.
They were talking about the parent’s day humdrum.Apparently the school had decided to keep the programme a secret from the parents and the grandparents.So the expectant parents,along with the grand parents were seated in the hall to see what their little ones were upto.
Well past the half-time there was no sight of the little one on the stage.
My sister was in tears.Her biggest fear was that her little golden darling might have passed by un-noticed as one of the trees on the stage,ultimately the kid ,all of four years danced to the family’s delight and my sister’s relief.
My sister-in-law’s experience was typical of my little neice who was quite a lost case as a child.Most of her childhood was spent in Kerala following her beaurocrat father’s postings .Heavy preparations were on for the parent’s day .Every day the child would come home and practice her dance almost to perfection but on the ‘D’ day the parents were utterly dismayed to find their little one missing from the troupe that presented the dance she had been practicing.The SIL’s heart sank thinking that the child might have been pulled out from the dance for some reason,but to their utter surprise she substantiated in a completely different dance after that.
On reaching home ,my SIL asked the kid why that had happened and she, all of three years old, coolly clarified that she was to have danced this particular dance all along but had liked the other one better and so she had practiced that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Studying our lives through Paul's prayer.

Walking with Paul through Philipians 1,vs 9-10 .
'And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,so that you may be able to discern what is excellent and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.'
Few points to be noted-
Three criterias are listed here -love in abundance,knowledge and depth of insight which go hand in hand-essential,cleansing and purifying each other towards a specified and a clear goal ,firstly towards excellence which if pursued for it's own sake would just be idolatory ,but towards excellence so that one may stand pure and blameless on the day of the Christ to the ultimate goal of magnifying and glorifying God(From eternity's perspective).
Love in abundance is not a goal ,neither is the knowledge of God ,or the depth of insight in isolation.They are the three essential means to the ultimate goal of glorifying God and doing things that matter in the eyes of the Lord.
Most importantly Paul is not instructing here,he is praying because all these three criterias can come about only by the grace of God and not by our effort.
Paul is praying for a revival amongst the phillipians.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Giver and the Given!

Manoj has been on anti-TB drugs for sometime now.
He has the multi-drug resistant variety of tuberculosis.He seems educated enough to know most things about the eight drugs that has been keeping him alive.
He walks into the TB clinic every week,keeps a close watch on the prescriptions written for him ,gets the prescription duely signed for charity and takes off with his medicine quite matter of factedly.Sometimes ,he makes me wonder what goes on inside his head and mind.He never whines,never complains ,he never talks an extra word.
He apparently has lost a brother and a father to the disease.Now just the mother and son survive.
In one of his visits I breezily asked him if he had ever seen the book ,pointing to the Bible,and he said he had just been introduced to the gospel of John and to my surprise he quoted the first verse-
‘In the beginning was the Word ,and the Word was with God and the Word was God’.
All of us in the OPD were stunned to silence.Mukesh hurriedly pulled a chair next to him and started praying with him.
Savitri Devi who was a follow up from deliberate self harm walked in to my OPD looking fresh,beautiful and different from the severely depressed lady I had counselled.
She had ,some years ago,I believe, been walking all the way the hospital to attend the Wednesday seeker’s meeting and had been attending the church but had discontinued due to the work situation where she had had to work on Sundays as well.She promised me she would start coming to the church once she was better.She tucked the bible lovingly into her bag and went home with a smile.
Amazing ,I thought.
This is the wonderful God we serve.The Giver and the Given!
May the grace of God enable many more to receive.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanth ee Jeus..Amen.

Herbertpur is ready for the spring.I am looking forward to the season myself.March and April I suspect, will be the best seasons as yet.I haven't decided what I would like to do when the weather takes a turn for the ideal-there are a few scatter-brained ideas floating around.Hopefully I will have 'been there and done that' by the time June sets in.
Today some of the family medicine students finished off with their course ,some of them are leaving for good.They were with me for dinner yesterday.Managed to rustle up a decent enough dinner for them while we went through their thesis work.Thanks to my sister,who has a way with the ladle,each time I make my VIP movements (that's what she calls it,since I reach and leave the same day)to Delhi,she manages to put in pouches of exotic add-ons into my bag-pack which makes cooking a delight and eating mysterious and fun.
The food on my table surprises me every single day I whole-heartedly thank the lord for my little nephew used to when he was three.Thanth ee Jeus..Amen.He is twenty three now!
In between juggling a hundred and one things at a time,I managed to ask one of my students who had been posted in ODC if he realised that he had actually had the oppurtunity to see one of the best physicians in India at work(Dr.KV)?There is never a time when I don't hear an exclamation followed by a voluble narration about Dr.KV's excellence the moment I mention that I was trained in ODC.It happened to me again during the short visit I made to Delhi in the corridor's of Stephen's.
I am off to Delhi again to sit through a day of directions and reflections...anyways,this is what I find myself doing most days,even while I am neck deep at work!